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Planning isn’t my forte. When I set up our Yellowstone trip, I knew it wouldn’t interfere with our Manzke Family weekend. What I didn’t figure was that Bob and I would have only two days between the two events. I hadn’t completely unpacked before I was trying to decide what to bring for our weekend.

The family had booked a house on Park Lake. There would be fishing, swimming, kayaking and tons of fun with 19 in the house — ages 2 to 15 to 73 years old.

Each family signed up to supply food and cook a meal. The idea was to bring enough to feed everyone for one shared meal. I chose to do breakfast. That shouldn’t be difficult — I hoped. If I made what Bob and I ate every morning, it would be a breeze: toast, banana and hard-boiled egg.

Of course, I couldn’t do that. The little ones might eat the banana, but what else would they eat? I worried about allergies and favorite foods.

Bacon and eggs went on my menu. It’s easy to please the big guys. I decided to prebake the bacon and made 3 pounds. Baking is so much easier than frying — I hate all that splattering.

Melon went on my menu, too, as did berries, yogurt and bagels. I pre-cut all the fruit so I could pop out containers when people came into the kitchen.

Early birds helped make coffee, and our son, Russ, volunteered to turn two dozen eggs into the creamiest scrambled eggs I’ve ever had. He said the trick was to cook them slow over a low heat. No hurrying those eggs.

All the meals for our weekend were delicious. Everyone brought too much food. This worked out okay because our scheduled Saturday campfire cookout was canceled by rain. Pudgie pies would have to wait for another day. Leftovers were reheated, and we were able to eat another yummy meal — just without the fun of charring marshmallows over a flaming fire.

Bob and I watched a couple of the young grandkids when parents had their hands full. These stints never lasted too long, especially after the youngster realized they had been abandoned by their parents and wanted to go searching for them. It’s hard to hold onto a wriggling 2-year-old; it feels like all their bones disappear and they just slip out of your grasp.

For the kids, swimming, fishing and kayaking were the big hits of the weekend — that and being surrounded by cousins.

No big fish were caught, but quite a few little ones were reeled in. All were released. It was fun watching the young kids react to the wriggling fish they pulled in. They were proud of their catch, but no way were they going to touch it or the night crawlers used as bait. I baited a few hooks and unhooked a couple fish. Mostly there were dads, uncles and teenagers there to help. Bob and I enjoyed watching.

It amazed me how well Ethan and Seth took care of all the younger children. Along with helping with the fishing, they took some out in kayaks. All were wearing life jackets, which made me feel better when they paddled away from the dock.

No one fell in the lake, but someone did fall on the stairs.

When it came to dividing the bedrooms, Bob and I were given the choicest room. I said, “No thank you. We’ll sleep in the living room.” There was a lounge chair and a nice couch. There we wouldn’t have to take the steep stairs. It took some talking, but we finally convinced them of the benefits of staying downstairs. It was our daughter, Rebecca who took a tumble. Bruised and sore, she recovered. I was sorry for her but happy I had made the right choice. I probably would have broken my neck.

We’re all looking to next summer and another long weekend with our family. If you know a place that might suit us, let me know. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com 

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